ELVIS BLASTS SCIENTOLOGY: 'That s.o.b. group - all they want is my money'
June 24, 1997
ELVIS BLASTS SCIENTOLOGY: 'That s.o.b. group - all they want is my money'
Troubled Lisa Marie Presley has been living under the iron grip of Scientology - and friends fear she may be a danger to herself. Warning flags went up when Lisa Marie, 29, was hospitalized recently near her Florida home with stomach, liver and bronchial infections, soon after undergoing a grueling Scientology ritual known as "cleansing."
Now a special STAR investigation in Lisa Marie's bizarre life inside the "church" reveals the disturbingly lonely existence of Elvis' only child.
Among the most troubling discoveries:
*Lisa Marie had a cholesterol count so high, doctors feared she could end up having a stroke or heart attack.
*She is under constant observation from church members who virtually never leave her alone. One Scientologist pal even climbed into her hospital bed with her.
*Lisa Marie's life in Scientology is dangerous, according to an attorney for a former member, whose family is suing the church, blaming Scientology for her death at the age of 36.
*Old friends of Elvis are concerned about Lisa Marie's obsessive involvement in Scientology - especially since the King was one of the most vocal critics of the group before he died in 1977.
Despite this, his ex-wife Priscilla was persuaded by John Travolta to join the church just a couple of years after the King's death. Lisa Marie was taken along too.
This year, Lisa moved into a three-story house situated on a bay in Clearwater, Florida - one of the home bases for Scientology.
Sources say Lisa Marie paid $1.5 million for the house at 1100 North Osceola Ave. because she desperately wanted to live close to the church. It was in that house that she collapsed in pain and was eventually taken to nearby Morton Plant Hospital, not long after undergoing the Scientology "cleansing" ritual.
During her hospital stay, STAR has learned that the 100-lb. young woman had an alarmingly high cholesterol level of 490. Doctors say healthy cholesterol levels usually average around 200.
The Scientology cleansing program can consist of ingesting megadoses of vitamins and sitting for hours in saunas, which can cause dehydration.
According to Dr. Victor Herbert, a professor at New York's Mount Sinai hospital, starvation and malnutrition can dramatically increase cholesterol levels.
"If these conditions continue, it can be life-threatening," says Herbert. "It can cause blood clotting, heart attacks and strokes. She is killing herself."
Doctors also discovered that Lisa Marie is suffering from Epstein Barr syndrome, also known as Chronic Fatigue syndrome, and energy-sapping ailment that doctors have found difficult to explain. Cher, Nicollette Sheridan and Peggy Lipton are just some of the stars who have been plagued by the baffling illness that leads to an inability to concentrate, overwhelming fatigue, sore throats and muscle pain.
One of the strongest warnings against Scientology has come from the family of Lisa McPherson, who lived on the same street as Lisa Marie - and who they say died at the hands of church members.
McPherson's strange death has had Clearwater up in arms for months.
The woman's dehydrated body was delivered to a hospital 30 miles away by a van load of church members. Answers to why she died have never been forthcoming. According to police, this is what happened:
A Dallas native, the 36-year-old McPherson was involved in a minor traffic accident in the city. She wasn't hurt, but she bizarrely removed all her clothes at the scene, saying, "I need help. I need to talk to someone."
Police took her to Morton Plant Hospital for psychiatric evaluation, but within an hour a group of Scientologists turned up at her bedside. Despite a doctor's protests, they persuaded her to sign herself out, saying they would take care of her at their headquarters, the Fort Harrison Hotel.
Seventeen days later, on Dec. 5, 1995, a Scientology van delivered McPherson's body to a small hospital in New Port Richey. The emergency room doctor who handled the case is a member of the sect.
An autopsy showed that McPherson-who was heavily dehydrated-died of a thrombo-cmbolism, a blood clot in the chest.
Medical Examiner Joan Wood said McPherson had had no fluids for several days and was unconscious for at least two days before she died.
Her family is suing the church. Clearwater police are investigating her death, and a source close to the investigation says he believes arrests will be made within a couple of months.
Ken Dandar, the lawyer representing McPherson's family, tells STAR from his office in Tampa:
"My recommendation to any Scientologist would be to get out as fast as you can."
He says Lisa McPherson was trying to get out when she died, and claims in the lawsuit her death was caused by a church technique called "introspection rundown."
"In such cases the Scientologists follow a program of keeping the person in isolation till they snap out of it. But Lisa would not listen to them, and her health went down and down and down until she slipped into a coma."
Old friends of Elvis are concerned about Lisa Marie's obsessive involvement in Scientology - especially since the King was one the most vocal critics of the group before he died in 1977.
Lamar Fike, who was part of Elvis' "Memphis mafia," says: "He stayed away from Scientology like it was a cobra. He'd s*** a brick if he knew how far Lisa's gotten into it."
The Scientologists once tried to recruit Elvis, Fike says. He recalls that Elvis fumed: "The hell with those people. There's no way I'll ever get involved with that s.o.b. group. All they want is my money."
The Scientologists are with Lisa Marie virtually every day According to sources, one Scientologist pal even climbed into the hospital bed with her.
"This scruffy looking blond-haired guy was with her all the time," says an insider. "He would always be in bed with her whenever anyone went in. He would be wearing his dirty worn-out jeans and flannel shirt, but all she would have on was one of the skimpy hospital gowns.
"Nurses and other staff would walk in and he'd have his arm around her or cradling her head, and they'd be whispering with their faces close together.
"He was on top of the cover usually, and she'd be half hanging out from under the cover with just the gown on.
"They slept together nearly every night. He'd be there in bed with her at night and still be there at four in the morning."
Observers say Lisa Marie is regularly whisked to nearby church buildings in a blue Chevrolet van. Anyone who gets too close is surrounded by uniformed Scientologist security guards and pressured to move on.
Sources say Lisa Marie had hopes for a recording career and planned on releasing a record to coincide with the 20th anniversary of her father's death in August. But she gave up on the dream of becoming a singer after she heard that record company insiders were panning the recording.
Now she has made Scientology and her children - Danielle, 8, and Ben, 4 - the focus of her life.
Lisa Marie stands to inherit $100 million on her 30th birthday, next February 1. Friends fear she will be pressured into giving much of it to the Scientology sect.
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